Seth Browarnik/Startraks; Dan Steinberg/AP
People Staff
January 27, 2010 12:00 AM

The buzz has begun over Simon Cowell‘s replacement when the iconic judge steps away from American Idol after this season — and legendary music executive Tommy Mottola is a possibility to fill his spot, a source tells PEOPLE.

Mottola, a longtime fixture in the music industry and Mariah Carey‘s first husband, could also be working with Cowell on X Factor, which he is launching as his next step after Idol.

“Both X Factor and Idol are interested in working with Tommy,” the source said. “Nothing has been decided but they are talking. He’s a shrewd negotiator and a legendary music impresario who has a great ear and instinctively knows talent. He is the perfect person for something like this.”

But a source from Idol tells PEOPLE, “No one has been offered a judging position on American Idol yet and there are no front-runners either. They have a lot of time to go over their options.”

Mottola, 60, has long been a heavy hitter in the music industry with knack for discovering talent. A former executive head of Sony Music Entertainment, he plucked Carey from relative obscurity (and eventually married her). Mottola is also credited with shaping stars including Jennifer Lopez, Jessica Simpson and Diana Ross. He’s currently married to Mexican pop superstar Thal a. –Blane Bachelor with reporting by Marisa Laudadio and Cynthia Wang

Tell us: Would Tommy Mottola make a good judge on Idol or X Factor? Who else would be a good choice?Seth Browarnik/Startraks; Dan Steinberg/AP

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